A Baptism For Hannah by Jay Douglas


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A Baptism For Hannah

Have I ever told you how many hours I spent confessing my sins
before I could feel my love’s hands wash over my skin guilt-free? Listen,
kid, I have learned this: we are not pestilence,
we are not cities
burned to the ground by holy decree
or piles of salt where mothers used to stand

looking back
I wonder if my mother’s wine-stained pages were an heirloom
meant to guide me toward or away
from those hard, wooden pews and my Grandfather’s
hard, calloused hands

and callous words
will never be enough to take me
from this new language I’ve learned to speak
that descended – I swear to Christ – in tongues of fire
tongues of freedom, tongues of men and of angels,
scales falling from my eyes, hear me
kid, we don’t need

their grape juice masquerading as bloody redemption
or the zombie-flesh of their bread
I have been reborn, myself, in myself, I am not
            who I was yesterday
            who I will be tomorrow
I am Adam rising from dust every morning, I am Eve
taking that first bite every night
I am Jesus
both ascending from the tomb and dying on the cross every time
they mingle slurs with sacrosanct love
and try to name it as righteous

hear me prophecy
with the wisdom of Solomon
because the Song was never just an allegory
and sex is not a synonym for hellfire
we were not born to die alone
and you are not Judas – you are beloved as John
you are more precious than perfume
doused hair rubbed
onto holy feet

more precious than Naomi to Ruth
than Jonathan to David
don’t let anyone tell you otherwise
don’t let anyone chain you down
and if they ever try
you bring that roof down
right on their Philistine heads

I baptize you now in a new kind of water, a new kind of spirit
so here, take some redemption
on your own terms
you don’t owe anyone an apology
you don’t owe them a damn thing
kid, you are the Garden of Eden
hiding in human skin, but I’m telling you now:
you don’t have to hide anymore




Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a senior undergraduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying English and World Religions. When not writing, Jay can usually be found honing Jay’s mad yo-yo skills or immersed in a book on queer theory. : instagram.com/monstrous.invert